Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/De Vere, Stephen Edward

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DE VERE, Sir STEPHEN EDWARD, fourth baronet (1812–1904), translator of Horace, and elder brother of the above, was born at Curragh Chase, Adare, co. Limerick, on 26 July 1812. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and shared through life the literary tastes of his family. After reading at Lincoln's Inn, he was called to the Irish bar in 1836. His life was dedicated to the service of his fellow-countrymen, and he worked hard for the relief of the distress during the Irish famine. He believed emigration to be the only panacea, and encouraged the young men to go out to Canada. Hearing of the terrible sufferings of the emigrants on the voyage, in May 1847 he went himself as a steerage passenger to Canada. The emigrant ships were sailing vessels, and the voyage took six weeks or more. He returned to England in the autumn of 1848. His letter describing the voyage was read in the House of Lords by Lord Grey, with the result that the Passengers Act was amended, and proper accommodation provided for emigrants. His admiration of the Irish catholic peasants led him to embrace the Roman catholic religion, and his reception into that church took place during his visit to Canada in 1848.

De Vere was member of parliament for Limerick (1854–9). He was a liberal, but, though opposed to home rule, approved Gladstone's Land Act. He succeeded his brother Vere as fourth baronet in 1880. He died unmarried on 10 Nov. 1904 at Foynes, co. Limerick, an island in the river Shannon, and was buried there, by the door of the Roman catholic church, which was built mainly by his exertions. A fountain was erected in the village during his lifetime to commemorate his work in the district. His kindness to his tenants was remarkable; they were suffered to help themselves to wood from the park, and even, it is said, to the deer. The baronetcy became extinct at his death.

De Vere published 'Translations from Horace' in 1886, together with some original verse. The renderings of Horace are vigorous and are often finely turned, but he expands freely. He wrote also a few pamphlets, including 'Is the Hierarchy an Aggression?' in 1851 (two edits.).

[The Times, 11 Nov. 1904; Wilfrid Ward, Aubrey de Vere, pp. 183-4; Aubrey de Vere, Recollections, 1897, pp. 252-4; private information.]

E. L.